“Gearing Up” for a Test Run



Before:  1998 Chevy 3/4 ton with 24 foot Puma

After: 2016 Chevy 1/2 ton with 27 foot Lance

It’s been a year now since I retired and my husband and I have been thinking about living a bit differently.  We have a travel trailer, a sailboat in the Pacific Northwest, some land in Colorado in addition to our home south of Denver and we stayed in South Africa for several weeks this past February.  We’ve enjoyed splitting our time and really started thinking we could do this on a more consistent basis.  Perhaps, we could even give up on house but it was clear we couldn’t live and work for extended amounts of time in our current trailer.

The “before” trailer was 24-foot with no slide and a small, awkward to get into double bed.  Add two border collies to the mix and it was obvious we needed a change.  There are a lot of questions to answer when looking around for a recreational vehicle.

Trailer or Motorcoach?  We like the trailer because we can park the trailer and use the truck for outings.  Given the right circumstances, our dogs can stay in the trailer while we are gone.

Fifth Wheel or Pull-Behind Trailer?  We opted for the pull-behind so we can use the truck bed for bikes and other items.

Length of Trailer? We clearly wanted a great bed space with room on either side to get out and around.  For us, the smallest one possible.  The smaller the trailer, the more options we have for parking and maneuvering.

Slide Outs? We decided one slide out was enough.  The main living area expanded which meant dogs wouldn’t be constantly underfoot but we would minimize the moving parts and hopefully, reduce any technical issues.

Construction type and age? We wanted a four-season trailer so taking trips in the spring and fall would be less risky with dropping temperatures and potentially freezing water.

Truck bed open or enclosed?  Our truck has a Softopper on it.  If you haven’t seen these, check them out.

Budget?  We were fortunate to have a trade and enough cash to not need any financing. But we did have a number in mind and were determined not to go into debt.

Tow vehicle?   We had fairly new cars and this old truck. Our 1998 Chevy 3/4 ton was showing her age.  She had no electronics and every year we’d put another $500 into replacing something and that was okay traveling here and there but not for extended periods and especially with our aging dogs.  We decided to get rid of an extra vehicle and have just a truck and a car.

We traded in our old pickup truck (1998) and my husband’s 2017 Hyundai Elantra for a 2016 Chevy Silverado with an extended cab that has doors so picking up our one dog and getting her settled.  It also has a six-foot bed instead of the eight-foot bed which makes our overall length a bit shorter.

Next:  Read about our lessons learned and how we “remodeled’ our trailer once we got back from our month-long test run.

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